Sometimes it can be overwhelming to think about how we could grow our businesses. But the best way to scale is to make sure we’re providing as much value for our audience as we can. So how do we do that? Well, one easy way is to go one level beyond what’s expected of us. Just one level.
In this coaching call, I’m chatting with Dustin John Staats of BGE's Tabletop. They’ve been selling tabletop board games, Pokemon and Magic: the Gathering cards, and all that good stuff online for years. The cool thing is that they also opened up a brick-and-mortar store in Los Angeles a few months ago.
Dustin wants to learn how to provide more value to his customers and keep them coming back. He’s already doing some really smart things in-store and online, like sending a Bonjoro video with every order to make the buyers feel special [affiliate link]. We talk about defining value for his target audience and putting the spotlight on his community. Dustin and I brainstorm some cool ideas for his store that will inspire you to apply this kind of approach to your business as well.
We also get into Deep Pocket Monster, my YouTube channel which Dustin has been following. I talk about some strategies I use to stand out in the crowded Pokemon space and serve my audience there. If you haven’t checked that out on YouTube, I highly encourage you to do so!
AP 1235: What Can I Do to Better Serve My Community?
Pat Flynn: What's up everybody Pat Flynn here and welcome to episode 1235 of AskPat 2.0. You're about to listen to a coaching call between myself and an entrepreneur just like you. And today we're talking with Dustin from BGE's Tabletop Games & More. He initially started his business in April of 2020, I believe. No, actually, this was a couple years ago he started.
And it was a e-commerce store for tabletop games. And what's really interesting is just recently this previous April, just a few months prior to this recording, he's opened up a brick and mortar store. And what he's trying to do is, is he's trying to build a community to the store online and offline.
It's just a really amazing conversation and story. And I think that you're gonna pull a lot of gems here to help you make your people feel more special. And that's really what this is about. So let's just dive right in. This is Dustin from BGE's Tabletop Games & More, which is in Los Angeles in case you're close by.
Pat Flynn: Dustin, welcome to AskPat. Welcome to the show, thanks for joining me.
Dustin John Staats: I'm super excited to be here. Super pumped. It's just crazy. I was thinking about this. I remember listening to your podcast, riding a bicycle in Taiwan. When I first got started with online business. That was like six year, six years ago.
Pat Flynn: Geez. Wow. Well, it sounds like you're doing some stuff now. Tell us kind of what you're up to.
Dustin John Staats: So we opened a brick and mortar store at the end of April is 2022. We've been online doing online business. Like an eCommerce store for the past two years previously, we were an event based business and we started that off of our podcast, Board Gaming with Education in Taiwan.
We moved to LA the pandemic hit. So we moved to a eCommerce model. And then with that, we kind of wanted to get a retail store going. And then now we're beginning to add our programming and events as a bigger part of our business model.
Pat Flynn: Nice. What does the business do?
Dustin John Staats: Essentially, a tabletop game store.
We sell tabletop board games, role playing games like Dungeons and Dragons, other indie tabletop RPGs, Pokemon cards, Magic the Gathering, all that good stuff.
Pat Flynn: That's so cool. How has the season four stranger things sort of helped business if at all.
Dustin John Staats: We've gotten a lot of, so many new players. I mean, I feel like every day we get a new D&D player that's interested in wanting to play. A lot of younger players too. Yesterday I had a session with an eight year old or no, seven 10, and I think the other boy was maybe like 12 and then their parents.
Pat Flynn: And you're all were playing D&D together and telling stories.
Dustin John Staats: And yeah, we all created our characters. We did our first campaign, which was pretty cool. They had to rescue a maiden and a windmill, but they defeated a Manticore and then we had to stop there.
Pat Flynn: Okay. I wanna keep talking about that, but I do wanna help you out a little bit. Well, like what's on your mind, what's going on in the business that you think I can help you with?
Dustin John Staats: You've started a Deep Pocket Monster. And I've been following that for a while and I've been noticing some awesome stuff. And I thought I could pick your brain because providing value is a big part of what we wanna do. And I learned that from a lot of people online, you especially. And I think we do it pretty well, but I wanna think of some other things maybe we can do and maybe brainstorm with you as far as like other ways we can provide value.
I'm also concerned about being a store that just gives stuff away for free and it's not actually. Providing value to in turn, create long term customers in a long term community.
Pat Flynn: Yeah. I'm glad you went there. Cause that's really the idea here is we don't want just like a, a one off transaction. We want a person who's gonna keep coming back, but also bring their friends and talk about it and, and share online and all that kind of stuff.
Can you define what value means to your target audience that's different for every sort of customer base. And what does that mean for your customer base of tabletop users?
Dustin John Staats: I would say there's a couple different demographics. There are the hobby gamers or whatever hobby it might be, and their value is very much in the product, but also there's that community aspect.
I think that's one way or one reason I push towards opening a brick and mortar. I mean, we could have stayed online forever, but I think really that's where a lot of tabletop gaming and hobby gaming shines. I mean, you have to play tabletop games, I guess not have to cuz the pandemic found some ways for us to play tabletop games virtually, but you really get that community aspect by playing in person.
Pat Flynn: I agree with that a hundred percent when I was a kid, I used to play Magic the Gathering a different tabletop sort of card trading card game. And the best part about it was the friends that I made and the environment that I was in. And, you know, my parents would just drop me off after school at the mall and pick me up for dinner because they knew that it was like a safe space for me to be.
With other nerds and, and we were playing games and stuff. And some of my best memories as a kid were spent in that sort of environment. So what are you doing currently to provide value in that way to bring community together, if anything yet?
Dustin John Staats: I'll see if I can explain it, but you're kind of giving me goosebumps, cuz I've noticed this over the past, like month and a half since we've been open, we've had younger players come in and like I played, I taught a younger player.
He was 11 years old. He came in with his mom and played Magic the Gathering. I've had parents say like, oh man, it's so awesome to have this space for our kids. Knowing that this is here. It's a safe space where they can play games. I think we're doing that pretty well. I mean, we, we have events, so D&D has been our biggest event and our most successful, I mean, the first night we did it, we were, you know, half full, our space holds about 22 people.
So we're kind of a smaller, in regards to a game store, we're kind of smaller sized, but, and now like yesterday we had to turn people away, which like I hated to do that to a couple boys that were really excited to come and play. And it's like, well, we, you have to RSVP and, you know, we need space, but just, I think we've been doing it pretty okay with the events. I hope I kind of explained that well enough.
Pat Flynn: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, the events are great. And how often are they happening?
Dustin John Staats: This month, July, we're rolling out a lot more. Previously, we did D&D on Thursdays, pokemon on Sundays. And we did board games on Saturdays. And now we're starting to do Magic on Fridays and Wednesdays.
We're doing a board game camp on the last week of July and we're targeting different soft skills with different games.
Pat Flynn: That's such a great idea. That's where I was gonna go. How can we. You know, you have to remember that it's not just the players. It's like, especially for the younger kids, it's their parents, that you're also providing value to safety and community and, you know, keeping kids off of the streets, et cetera, is of value to those parents who are often the ones who have the money or who make those decisions. And who will either choose to keep bringing people back or keep them away.
I love that you're doing more and more of these types of events. I like the camp idea, because that is specifically for educating a certain group of people on that. I think, you know, there was a card store here in San Diego. I can't remember the name, but I went in to do some research when I was learning how to play Pokemon. And they actually had once a week sort of a, like a training and there was different people who would come in, who were actually players who played there as well. It wasn't just like the staff leading it. It was like the staff empowering, those who were regulars to come up and get a little bit of a spotlight.
And you've probably heard me talk about that before on the show, like spotlighting your community, make them look like the hero that ultimately makes your brand look like the hero too. So there might be some cool things as you go along, as you get to know who the regulars are, to allow them to feel like they're even more involved because when people are more involved, they're more invested, not just with money, but with time and dedication and effort and sharing and all that kind of stuff.
So perhaps that might spark some other ideas for you along those lines.
Dustin John Staats: Yeah. That's a really good point. I think one thing that crossed my mind, we have our DMs that have been, we have one DM. He's been doing it since the very beginning. And he's awesome.
Pat Flynn: DM is dungeon master, right? Not direct message for those listening.
Dustin John Staats: Dungeon master. Yeah. The one that leads the D&D session. Yeah. So I can think of some ways to kinda give back to him. I mean, we reward our DMs with store credit, but I'm sure there's other ways because that we can do something where it also highlights him as a DM. And then also the event, like this is some things we're doing.
Pat Flynn: Love it. Love it. Are you bringing the community that you are building in person? First of all, where are you located for everybody? Who's like, I need to go to this card store or this, this game store.
Dustin John Staats: We're in Los Angeles, the San Fernando valley.
Pat Flynn: All right. I'm just a couple hours away, maybe one, one of these days off to drive up and we can hang for a little bit and, and talk shop.
Dustin John Staats: Yeah, for sure. Play some Pokemon.
Pat Flynn: Okay. So LA what's the name of it?
BGE's Tabletop. Okay. Awesome. Are you doing anything online? I know you came from online. You're kind of bringing it, you know, in person, but you have that online experience. Are there any online communities that a person who might follow along or, you know, come across your brand to still feel like involved maybe from afar. Is there an online community base or, or something yet?
Dustin John Staats: Yeah, I think we do have one. It's not, I think there's a, not as strong of a connection as I would like there to be between online community and in space community.
There is a little bit like I stream from the store every Friday and. I gives share some updates, but most of those updates are for in person. And then we talk about a topic related to tabletop games. We are recording for our videocast now, like we opened two months ago. So it's been a lot of other things that have been taken priority versus creating content.
We do TikTok. So that's probably our biggest platform that we post to TikTok. And then Instagram stories. We kind of post like things happening in the store and stuff like that.
Pat Flynn: Right. I like that. You had mentioned streaming. I was gonna say streaming could be a great opportunity. It would also be interesting too, for these tournaments, you know, not necessarily creating a whole channel where it's like, okay, we're gonna stream every game and kind of commentate.
That can be a lot. And maybe that comes later, but perhaps there's a way to, you know, you said like every Friday is a particular game. Everybody else online who can't make it or is just not available to come in that day, can know that, you know, the last match or the last 10 minutes or the last 30 minutes or hour of the game or whatever is gonna be streamed for people to watch. And it doesn't have to be super fancy. It honestly feels better when it's more raw and less produced because it, it feels like you're kind of there with them and it might be cool for the players who are there in person as well, to know that, you know, there's people around the world kind of watching and it could take on this sort of pattern of, Hey, every week, you know, I'm gonna be involved, whether I'm there or not, I'm still feeling like I'm there.
So that's like the first point. And the second point is, going back to the in person stuff where I think, you know, a lot of organic growth can happen. A lot of these people are gonna go back home and talk about it and come back with their friends and whatnot. Especially once school comes back, people are gonna have these experiences during the summer and wanna keep that going and wanna show their friends kind of what's been going on.
So a couple different ways to build community. You know, I think this is where swag and things like that can come into play, you know, from shirts and hats and wristbands or, or what, whatever you might have at your disposal. There's a lot of different things that you can do, but I, I want you to take it one step further.
A lot of what makes Deep Pocket Monster stand out, I think, is the fact that we do think about when we publish a video, when we do live streams or anything like that, we go, okay, how do we make this one level beyond what people expect? How do we in a way, try to blow their minds in some way, or to, to surprise them in some way.
And it doesn't always require a giveaway or anything like that. Like you said, you know, you don't just wanna give things away for free, but it might be the way you share that story or the, the experience that you have or, you know, something just unexpected. You know, there's a lot of other card shops and tabletop game stores.
How can yours be put on the map because you do something in a special or different kind of way. And yeah, I know, again, you're only two months into this, but now would be the great time, especially with a lot of people coming in and now even turning people away. How can you make their experience just one level above where they would expect?
And that's a great challenge for you and your employees to think, because that's where you get that Disney like approach, you know, that experience, that customer service experience, everything. I talk about, my book Superfans would probably apply here, but any thoughts or things that you're already doing that might kind of be along those lines.
Dustin John Staats: I'm trying to think of some things we can do maybe to make the experience just so much better. We haven't hired on staff yet. We will be at the end of the month, we'll hire a couple part-time employees and we have something in place called GOAT and it's just how we interact with our customers. I, I have to review our actual acronym. I don't remember off the top of my head.
Pat Flynn: So it's not greatest of all time, GOAT?
Dustin John Staats: That's where we took it from. It is stands for something different, but it's just the steps of service that I've kind of taken from restaurant. I've worked in a restaurant for like 10 years previously, and I taken those steps of service for interacting with the customer.
One of the biggest things with that takeaway is that like the transaction is not the most important thing when they're in the store. The most important thing is making sure they're having a good time, whether that's like chatting to them about whatever game they enjoy. If they are looking for a game, making sure they get a game that they're going to enjoy and not just sell them, whatever game is the most expensive one, cuz we want them to enjoy the game.
So they come back to us. Right. And then also I've noticed a couple. I'm not very familiar with the marketing terms, but our marketing funnel, we do have a lot of customers who come in maybe two or three times and then make their purchase on that fourth visit. I think just the things that we are doing to interact with customers on a human level versus a customer business level goes a long way.
Thinking of some, what is it? Who is the marketer? The purple cow.
Pat Flynn: Yeah, Seth Godin mm-hmm.
Dustin John Staats: Yeah, Seth Godin. Thinking of something that like super stands out, you use Bonjoro. That's what we do with our, on every single online order we get, we send a Bonjoro to our customers and people love that. Yeah. They're like, whoa, I did not expect that.
And they'll go leave us a review on Google because of. They get a video from us, cuz we're trying to emulate that like local games to our feel as much as we can.
Pat Flynn: So smart, dude. I, I love that. That's a big lesson for everybody listening. Bonjoro, creating a personalized video. Doesn't like how long does it take you to do a video for a single customer after they come in?
Dustin John Staats: It feels like nothing. Cuz it's already part of our process. It's like 20 seconds. I just create a video and then it's while I'm fulfilling the order, like either printing the shipping label or boxing it up.
Pat Flynn: That's so great. How might you bring that experience to like the in-person events, for example, what, what would be the equivalent of that you think?
Dustin John Staats: Yeah, I don't know. I don't know. I'm, I'm struggling to think of some stuff that we could do. I probably need to take some time off and go visit some other game stores. Again, to kind of brainstorm. That'll probably come maybe next month when we have some staff, I can have them take over so I can do a field trip.
Pat Flynn: Yeah, sure. I mean, I went to a different game store in my Pokemon sort of, you know, research phase and I went in and nobody spoke to me. I was kind of just wandering around and I just left it, like, didn't feel special at all. And sometimes just those little interactions or little curiosity, like here's the quote that I think my coach James Schramko first told me that was stop trying to be so interesting and start getting interested.
The way to make people feel special is for you to take the spotlight off of you and put it back on them. There might be an interesting opportunity for you to discover as people come in, like two things. Have they been here before? If yes, if you can remember their name and just welcome them back, that's huge, right?
Like that alone is like, wow, I feel welcome here. And I feel recognized that's a human just need. But if it's our first time, perhaps there's like, Hey, first time here, you're gonna sit and watch games. Cool. Well, you know, Hey, it was hot today. Here's a bottle of water or. You know, like literally that, just that little tiny interaction and maybe not bottled water, cuz that provides a lot of waste or something, but you know, maybe a a special die, like a twenty-sided die or something for somebody that is branded.
And you know, you could, you could probably make a thousand of those for a couple hundred bucks. That again, just that little token, right? It's not even about the die. It's about just, Hey, I see you. You're welcome here. And here's something for you because it's your first time, right? Like other game stores I know is a factor not doing that.
Dustin John Staats: Yeah. And that's one thing we wanted to be sure is like, we are, I, because the hobby game stores, they're awesome, but they're really, for those people that are already in the hobby and they know what they're doing, they go into the store. We want it to be kind of that bridge between people who are not really familiar what tabletop games are all about. And that's why, like, it's really important for us we are talking to every person that comes through our door. I mean,
Pat Flynn: I can also imagine, like I'm putting myself in the shoes and this is what is hard to do. It's the curse of knowledge. It's hard to remember what it's like to not know something after you've learned it.
And so I'm trying to put my head into the head of somebody who's brand new to like Dungeons and Dragons, which I am, you know, I'm only familiar with it through Stranger Things. And a lot of people are now interested in it as well. Imagine I come into your. It's like D&D day, there's a bunch of stuff going on.
I'm gonna be like, feeling like a fish outta water, like, oh my gosh, like, what am I doing here? And this is interesting and I wanna get involved, but I'm a newbie. I don't wanna embarrass myself. Somebody comes and welcomes me. Dustin, maybe you come and welcome me. Like, Hey, welcome in. Are you here for the D&D stuff?
And I'm just like, yeah, I'm, I'm here to just learn. I don't wanna play right now. I'm just kind of feeling my way around and then you go, oh, that's awesome. Hey, this is Eric over here. He was new like a month ago and he's been playing along now. Like you guys should talk and oh, Hey, there's a game going on right here.
Actually, let me pull up a chair for you and give you front row seats so you can see what's happening. Hey guys, this is Pat here. He's just gonna be watching. And already I'm like feeling like I'm a part of the crew, right. Versus the outsider. And I think that, again, that little, it it's, it's similar to, you know, a friend of mine, Jay Clouse called it like the same thing to do with like CrossFit.
If you ever do CrossFit, you know, there's like these CrossFit gyms similar to like a tabletop game store. It's very tight-knit communities. Anybody new coming in often feels like they're kind of an outsider. They're trying to feel their way through the equipment. And just trying to figure out what the vibe is.
And the best way to make people feel like they're a part of something is to introduce them to people who are already there and to take them on a little tour. And that can just, again, you don't even need to offer anything physical. It's just a little bit of time and attention to that person. Who's brand new and, and because your store is so small right now, You have the opportunity to, to really go sort of further with that, I think.
Dustin John Staats: Yeah, that's a good point. I think we are, we try to be as welcoming as possible, but it's really good to connect new people with people that are already part of the community.
Pat Flynn: Yeah. It makes the people who are already a part of the community also feel special because you, you recognize them as somebody who could help out as well.
Dustin John Staats: Right. I think that's a big point too.
Pat Flynn: Yeah, that's awesome, man. I'm gonna hope to make my way to LA. At some point, I actually am headed up there. When am I headed up there? Mid-July I don't know where specifically it's for my daughter's dance situation. So if it's close by like thus, and after this, if you'd like to send me the address of, of the store, I'd love to see if it's close by and I can just swing by and say hi at some point.
Dude, this was epic. I, I hope it was helpful and inspirational and I'm looking forward seeing the company grow and, and the sales continue to go up and, you know, hopefully D&D continues to just rock it. Even after the finale that just came out today for season four, my wife and I stayed up until like two in the morning to catch the first one.
No spoilers though. No spoilers.
Dustin John Staats: We have a sister-in-law, brother-in-law that watches watches it with us together and they're in Mexico, we gotta wait for them to come back.
Pat Flynn: Oh yeah. Oh, that's gonna be hard. Awesome, man. Well, Hey, one more time, name of the store. Where can people kind of follow up with you in case they're curious it's
Dustin John Staats: BGE's Tabletop. You can reach me at, I guess, [email protected] and thank you so much, Pat. This is super awesome. Hopefully I'll see you in the store. I'll see you in San Diego sometime.
Pat Flynn: Awesome. Yeah. And if you're down here, let me know and, and we'll hook up. Cool. Take care.
Pat Flynn: All right. I hope you enjoy that episode with Dustin. Again, Dustin, thank you so much.
What an amazing conversation. And I'm looking forward to seeing and, and hopefully entering the store at some point, maybe this summer or, or perhaps later in the year. But more than that, just excited to see how you're going to take a lot of the things we spoke about. It is obvious that you're already thinking about the right things and have already started to do some stuff.
But I think you can take things to the next level. And to my point, this is for everybody people notice when you go a little bit above and beyond, and you don't have to spend a ton of money, you don't have to be extravagant to do that, to have a person feel like, wow, you actually do care, or you actually are doing it a little bit differently.
And that's what I want y'all to focus on. As you move forward into the rest of the year here with your business, no matter what your business is about. So again, thank you so much for coming in. I appreciate you and I look forward to serving you in the next episode and make sure subscribe if you haven't already.
Thank you so much. Cheers. And we'll see you in the next one. Peace out.
Thanks for listening to AskPat at AskPat.com. I'm your host Pat Flynn. Our senior producer is Sarah Jane Hess. Our series producer is David Grabowski. And our executive producer is Matt Gartland. Sound editing by Duncan Brown. AskPat is a production of SPI Media.
We'll catch you in the next session.